Skip to main content

tv   American Artifacts  CSPAN  March 25, 2016 9:10pm-10:16pm EDT

9:10 pm
here. when he founded this plantation finance much smaller and he grew rice and indigoprincipally as the main cash crops and indigowas the significant cash crop here in the 18th century. he and his children continued until the late 18th century, beginning of the 19 century. in 1795 the first crop of sugar in louisiana. we're in a strange climate zone so it couldn't really -- nobody had been really to take it the full way before that. so in 1795 with the help of somebody from haiti who had come over after the revolution, he granulated a crop and all of the planters followed suit after that. sugar could make a whole lot more money than indigo could.
9:11 pm
and so right around the same time that that first sugar crop was being granulated, indigo was not really a viable crop anymore. so this plantation transitioned at some point after that by about 1805. it was planted in sugar and it remains planted in sugar till today. sugar is still a huge industry in south louisiana and all around us our historic cane fields still planted in cane that is still sent off to the domino sugar refineries. so three generations in this plantation. over the course of the 100 plus years that they owned this land, there were many successful generations of people who were enslaved here and so the population would have shifted
9:12 pm
over time with market forces. the highest number that we ever have recorded at one single time of enslaved people in this land is 101, but we believe that that's a little low. we think there were perhaps as many as 200 people enslaved at the highest point. we have record of people that we've found, 357 over the course of that 100 plus years, but there are going to be a lot of people missing from that. so where we will really start introducing that population is on our first memorial where we're going to begin in some memorials where we've built to people enslaved in louisiana and enslaved on this land. >> this is a wall of honor and on this memorial we have recorded the names and some basic information about 354 individuals that we have been able to find who were enslaved on this land. this memorial is -- it moves
9:13 pm
through time roughly chronologically so in the earlier -- on this side we have people who were born in the 18th century, but we're missing the entire first generation of enslaved people here. we don't know anyone -- we don't know anyone's name who was enslaved here from the very beginning in 1752. all of these people were born after the founding of this plantation. so there's some example of people that we're already missing. this information comes mostly from sale documents. people's names were not always recorded when they were enslaved. so if you look at things like the census records, it will just include a tally of how many men and how many women but i won't tell you any names so we have to look for those names in sale documents, in the city of new orleans, there was a notary involved and so we go to the notary archives to find sales and purchases. and all of the information that
9:14 pm
we have here, this biographic cal information is related to selling. so where someone came from, how old they were, whether they came with children, the jobs that they knew how to do, these were all things that would affect their price at sale. louisiana had different laws than other states and territories in the united states. so in -- in louisiana for a very long time it was illegal to sell children away from parents under the code that was beforeóírwñ py and later it was actually before the age of ten and so you see things like this. here's agatha and these are people being sold together in a lot. so we have basic information here and there's really not a lot that this information can tell us, but we're able to tease out just a little bit. so one thing that we notice here is that all of these people, we
9:15 pm
can see that most of them are born in africa and that's listed here. their places of origin and yet their names are european names. in this case they're french. we also see in the early years a few spanish names as well. and so we know that these people who have these european derived names were not born in africa with those names so that tells us something about that cultural annihilati annihilation. slave traders often renamed people and it's something that continued to happen throughout the course of slavery in the united states over the course of the 19th century when people were sold from one plantation to another, their new owner could choose to rename them and here in louisiana, we use the example of solomon northup. he was sold as a slave for years
9:16 pm
and then the movie that was recently made about it. the reason he was lost for that time is he was never sold under the name of solomon. the first slave trader called him plat and so he was living for 12 years under the name of plat which was not his given name and that's an experience that a lot of people had and you can see that written in various narratives. but even though there is this problem of people's names being taken away from them, there are a few people who remain here who have african names. so here is a person named mingo which is an african name. we also have someone named samba and we have coacou. it means a male born on a wednesday. these are names that tell us something about the circumstances of those people's birth. and also interesting enough, here is someone named moussa. this is an islamic name so this person was a mus muslim.
9:17 pm
people who came from north africa were likely to be exposed to islam. there were long standing trade networks so this is something that tells us a little bit about the religion and culture of people who came to the new world as slaves. people came from widely different groups, so people who came to the americas enslaved were in some cases muslim and in some cases catholic. the kingdom of congo was oinitially catholic. and of course there was especially in louisiana a connection with the caribbean, a lot of the ships made stops off in the caribbean before coming into the mainland of the united states, and so there was there again, another chance for that kind of blending and synchrotism with west african and caribbean religions there coming into louisiana. and it's also important to note
9:18 pm
that these people were selected by slave traders for specific skills and traits that they had. so most of the people enslaved in louisiana, about 60% were people that came to the different parts of the u.s. as slaves for different reasons. a lot of that had to do with the crops that they were familiar with growing. so the first two slave ships that came to louisiana in 1719, the captains of those ships were under orders to go find skilled indigo growers. because they were trying to establish an indigo economy here in louisiana and the european planters did not have the skills in planting indigo. it wasn't grown in europe. so they had to go find people who already knew how to grow it, who already knew how to process it which is a complicated process and who knew how to build those fields. same thing with rice.
9:19 pm
skilled rice growers brought into louisiana and south carolina. so you find these very directed, you know, trading going along the western coast of africa, going into specific markets in the united states to fill the plantations there and build that crop wealth. so most of the people here were coming as we said, from west and central africa. a few people born in the caribbean who had already been, you know, coming from long trading there. but most people are coming internationally. and so something that's important to note about the movement across the atlantic during the time of the atlantic slave trade is that the vast majority of settlement of the new world was african compulsory settlement. so of all of the people who crossed from the old world to the new world until 1807, four out of five came from africa.
9:20 pm
so the vast majority of movement was enslaved africans being forced on ships across the atlantic and they're not really good estimates about the actual number. the figure that's kind of come at is about 12.5 million people. and that's not including people who didn't make it to the coast. people who are being driven from the interior and died enroute and then were not even able to get on the boat and come across. so about 12.5 million people involved in the middle passage. of that 12.5 million people less than 12% came to the territory that became the united states. the vast majority of movement into slave societies was into the caribbean and into brazil. in the united states we outlawed
9:21 pm
the international slave trade in 1807 which did not fully cut it off, but it significantly lowered that movement, because people were still being pirated. they were being smul smuggled into the united states. the last slave ship it's estimated arrived 1859 or 1860 and that's right up until the end of the civil war. but it did cut off the majority of that trade and this is an interesting time around 1807 that at the exact same time the lands down here in the mississippi river valley were just beginning to be developed. so the louisiana purchase happens in 1803. 1807 you can't get any more slaves into the united states and so at the same time that people are buying up large tracts of land and really increasing their need and reliance upon compulsory labor, slave labor, they didn't have a supply of enslaved people coming from africa.
9:22 pm
and so what we -- this changes the culture here and what happened is that a very robust domestic slave trade developed in the wake of that. and we can see this happening on our wall here where you can already see them sort of str trickling in. there's a few people born on what's called the east coast instead of in the old world or in the caribbean and on the reverse side of the wall you'll see a large collection of them. so here all of a sudden, all of these people are listed east coast. east coast is probably virginia. and you can see that they came from an english owned plantation by their names. ed win, jack, tom, sam, these are all english names. so they no longer have french or spanish names. not as many african names.
9:23 pm
so the domestic slave trade was an enormous movement of people across this country. so in total, from after the conclusion of the international slave trade in 1807, 1 million people were moved from the upper south and the upper south is virginia, maryland, tennessee, north carolina, south carolina a little bit, but mostly centered in virginia and north carolina and 1 million people were moved down the river to louisiana, alabama, mississippi, where there was large -- large scale plantations. so to give you an idea of this -- the difference in labor there, i come from north carolina. a lot of our plantations that we had in north carolina tobacco plantations, tobacco is really awful for the soil. and the fields have to lay fallow for a very long time to recover after growing tobacco and so it really cuts down on the amount of land that they could work. and also they needed smaller scale labor.
9:24 pm
a lot of the plantations had 55, 60 slaves and here in louisiana, they had over 100. and just on another plantation they had 750 slave people. so there was a greater need for large scale labor and in the upper south, they had a larger population of women. they were encouraging family units and family growth. part of the value of an enslaved woman was her reproductive potential. and enslaifvers talked about th by using the word increase. so if a woman were given to another family member in a will, they would give sally and her increase, sally and all of the potential children that she could have forever and her
9:25 pm
children's children, all of that sombre reproductive potential belonged to that woman. so there was a great value in encouraging the growth of families because they could make more money on selling off those children. so the majority of people who came down from the upper south were in their late teens to early 20s in the prime of their working life that would be born and raised on plantations in the upper south and most of them marched over land. most of that movement was over land. some of it was on a river boat coming down the mississippi. some of it was on boats coming down the atlantic seaboard and into the gulf of mexico from there. but new orleans was the heart of that trade. so new orleans was tied to virginia and to alexandria and virginia and there was this constant flow of people coming down to new orleans to be spread out to the territories from there. so this is where you can see all of that happening. on this plantation we have an oral history given to us by the descendants of one of the people
9:26 pm
enslaved here that describes this process of being taken from the upper south and sold in the lower south. anna is a girl who was born on the east coast, probably virginia, and the story was she was bought to be a gift to the woman of this house. anna as the family has related to us lived inside of the big house and so would have had a -- an interesting kind of relationship with the family. people who lived in the big house who were slaves often had a strange kind of relationship that we can't really understand today. she was a slave and would have been treated as such, but also would have been very close to the family as well. and the reason for that
9:27 pm
significance is because of her son victor hidell. so anna's mistress had a brother who impregnated anna and we don't know -- this was so long ago we don't know if anna was raped by him or if they had some kind of relationship although for enslaved women there was no such thing as consent because they did not own their bodies. and so victor was born of a family member and an enslaved woman who was as listed on her documents, american, mixed race woman and so victor would have been considered here what they call a quadroon. one quarter african descendant and enslaved by his own family. this is one instance that we know of for certain of all of these 354 people over 100 years of ownership of the family, we
9:28 pm
know that there were many, many, many more people born here of enslaved mothers and white hidell fathers and this can kind of thing was common throughout the south and those children born of those enslaved women belonged to their own family and would not necessarily be treated any better and in many cases you can read in narratives of where those children would be treated just a little bit worse because usually there was a white wife somewhere in there who understood where those children were coming from. so the accept rations between enslaved people and the enslavers were not really there. there was a lot of mixing in terms of sexual assault, in terms of actual relationships. certainly here in louisiana a lot of free people of color existed here because of consensual relationships where enslaved women would then be freed and given their own property. so in louisiana it's a very different class that's kind of
9:29 pm
created here. free people of color and people enslaved by their own families as well. >> this is a memorial where we have trabs scribnscribed of 107 people enslaved. this is based on the information that hall has put together and that database ends in 1820. there's talk now of about extending it to 1865. we have just their first names and again, these are mostly coming from sale documents and then what we've also done here is recorded little snippets from the works progress slaves narratives so we allow people to walk through on their own and take a few minutes to reflect and read those names and those
9:30 pm
testimonials. >> this is the last memorial that we visit before we move into the historic grounds of the plantation. we put this for children who died in the parish that we are in here at the whitney plantation. it's centered by a sculpture by rod moore head. he's from mississippi and this is called coming home. so we have along the walls here the names, date of death, ages and names of the mother of all of these children who died and these are recorded in the church records. so our historian did the research in pulling those records out of the church and recording them here. so here's a large collection of people that are not listed with any name whatsoever. these are all people that are
9:31 pm
just listed as little slave, negro slave girl, negro slave boy. these perhaps died too young to be named but sometimes we see this notation when people were two or three years old, people who had names but even at death were just, you know, when they were born they were born into a lower class of course as enslaved people and it was not seen as important enough to record the names that they had or to look into it to find out what their name was in life. >> so the whitney plantation for the longest amount of time was a sugar plantation. today our sugar fields come right up to the edge of where we interpret, and historically the
9:32 pm
land had a sugar mill on its site as well. so the people who were enslaved on this land worked in the fields, and probably the majority of them would have been occupied in sugar. so they worked in the fields. they also worked as domestics, as herdsmen. this is kind of like a little village. all of the jobs that needed to sustain this group of 100 plus people were done here, you know, they made all of the food here, they grew the food here, and also worked on, you know, text tiles and things like that. carpenters and the like. shaug g sugar processing happens at the end of the year. sugar is very much growing and it's going to continue to grow until late october or early november. the goal with sugar is to have everything processed and done by christmas time. so christmas day, they want the entire field done and granulated. these kettles were used in the
9:33 pm
granulation of sugar. we brought these kettles in from other places, but historically at our sugar mill there would have been eight kettles like this and they would go from large down to small. you can see that this has a lip on it so these would be sitting in a brick structure, and then open on the bottom where there would be a fire underneath. so the goal with these kettles is to take ground down sugar stalks, they would grind all of the cane using animal power and then using a steam engine later on. they would take the juice that comes out of that sugar cane and boil it in these giant kettles. these would have to be tended. this is a 24-hour a day process for about one month and the people who worked in making sugar would be standing next to kettles like this using long
9:34 pm
handled ladles and physically scooping the juice from one kettle to the next to the next to the next and putting it in cooling pans where it would granulate. this would be as you can imagine a very hot and dangerous process. it's sticky, so not only would it get crusty and attached to the bottom there and burn, which made an inferior product but it could also burn the people who were making the sugar so it was dangerous in that way. and they worked in shifts, 24 hours a day. the thing that makes sugar difficult and kind of unique in the cash crops grown in the new world is that it had to be processed as soon as it was cut. so they couldn't, in other words, just cut it and sit on it for a little while and then process it later. as soon as it's cut it starts to die and it's not going to make good sugar. so that's why that harvesting season or grinding season was extremely grueling and all of the physical labor done outside was also done in a very, very
9:35 pm
cold time of the year. south louisiana does get bitterly cold, humid cold in november and december and enslaved workers would be working outside constantly in that. all of the original slave cabins were torn down by the 70s and they looked about like this. this is pretty typical and it's essentially a duplex. it's -- it would be a family on each side or if not a real family, a fictive family. the slave cabins that were on this site were arranged the way that we've brought these in, so we have -- there would be two rows facing each other with a central courtyard in the center and so you can imagine that that
9:36 pm
would have created a kind of community there. and these were also set back from the plantation big house by about a half a mile and so there was some physical distance where the family lived and where the enslaved workers lived and that distance is important in creating a sense of autonomy although their movements were not controlled. overseer would be monitoring them at all stages of the day to ensure that they got up at the right time, they were at work at the right time and they were back at the cabins at the right time. that said, especially because there's that distance and there is so much space here, there are a lot of plantations out here on the river road, something that was very common in particular in this region, but other reasgion as well. especially since families tended to be separated and that wasn't
9:37 pm
a long distance, necessarily. if a husband and wife were on neighboring plantations they might be away from each other for two or three miles and so running away for that two miles to go see a loved one and come back before dawn is something that was extremely common but that was all done with a certain degree of risk. if they left and even if they intended to come back they would be considered a runaway and could be punished for that. enslaved people would be in the cabins mostly at night. their work days stretched from what they said was can't see to can't see, so in other words, from dawn until dusk they would be out at their jobs and then come back to the cabins at nighttime. nighttime back at the cabins would be a time for communion with people who are there, their families or like we said, the fictive families and also food preparation. enslaved people were given rations by the plantation owner and typically the most common
9:38 pm
thing that you can read about in slave narratives are corn meal and bacon. bacon would be essentially fat backed. lots of fat. not a nutritious cut and not considered really the high cut, the good cut that the family would be eating. they would also receive things like intestines, like pig feet, these are all things that of course have been sustained for a very long time in southern cooking, but have their roots in those kind of lower cuts that were given to enslaved people during slavery times. also very common in terms of food of enslaved people are things that orange nate in africa. black eyed peas, watermelon, these are things that came to the new world with enslaved people, okra and people brought with them their african food ways and supplemented it the best they could. people cooked in their cabins.
9:39 pm
there were usually fireplaces in the cabins where they could prepare meals but in a place like south louisiana where it's very, very hot, a lot of the time we imagine they would be preparing almost like a campfire outside so they didn't have that smoke and heat in their cabins. all of these things are going to be different in the different plantations. the way people were treated was different and what we have represented here are a few things that you can read about in slave narratives when people talk about the types of furnishings that hthey had. a rope bed like this is something that is common. and we have this rough kind of fabric with hay in the middle so you can see how that's
9:40 pm
constructed. in louisiana it was also common to use moss, spanish moss for stuffing for a bed. a lot of people experienced at different plantations. in fact, solomon northup, he never described sleeping in a bed for that full 12 years. he also described sleeping on a pallet on a floor. beds like this about the size of a full bed today, this would be a bed for an entire family. children, mom and dad, they'd all be sharing space and you can see there's not a lot of space in these cabins so there wouldn't be much of a sense of privacy, what we would think of being appropriate in a family and being private. all of that living was done in just a couple of rooms, everybody together.
9:41 pm
this is an 1868 jail that we brought in. this is not a slave jail. it's from a few years after the conclusion of slavery. but we brought it in as a learning tool so that we can see the types of typical spaces where enslaved people were confined, especially leading up to sales. this is a very typical design of that era and you can see there are a few photographs of pens in the backs of auction houses that are similar in design to this. so typically at an auction houssay like you would find in the city of new orleans there would be a front room where the auction would take place and then in the back a small courtyard with a row of cells enclosed in a courtyard so people could come out during the day and sleep in the cells at night. in addition to pens that were used in the marketing of enslaved people, there were also slave jails. in the city of new orleans, in
9:42 pm
the central business district there were two dozen slave jails at one time. additional enslaved people were locked up at the state penitentiary as well. so all of the same rules applied to enslaved people if they were convicted of murder or theft or any of those other infractions, they could be locked up just the way that a free person could. but of course, a lot of the punishment of enslaved people was done in an extra legal fashion on the plantations. plantations did also have jail like structures sometimes where people could be confined as punishment. but typically they were not iron structures like this. they might be made of wood or brick or people might just be confined in a barn or an extra room somewhere. but those -- that kind of confinement was very typical. a lot of people who were enslaved in the state of louisiana would at one time or another experience being sold at an auction. especially since so many people who were enslaved in the lower south had come from the upper
9:43 pm
south. so they had been sold off of a plantation and then purchased by a slave trader, and brought down to new orleans to be sold at auction. this whole transaction of moving people from one part of the country to another to sell them is something that kind of i elucidates the markets. of course the raw goods that we were producing in the south supplied the northern and foreign factories, but also that slave trade itself involved people like insurance agents, like mortgage brokers and bankers. there was a lot of industry, northern and southern involved in that. so to give you an example there. if a slave trader working out of virginia and new orleans and that would be the biggest one would be isaac franklin. if he purchased an enslaved person off of a plantation, the upper south, he would sometimes
9:44 pm
pay full cash value for them up there, but it would be a wholesale rate so this is, you know, you can see how people were sold. they were paid for a wholesale rate. if he didn't have the cash amount he could put a mortgage on that person and they would be ensured for the time in transit and then brought, he would cover all of the expenses of moving them down and then sell them here at a retail rate. about 100% more than what he bought them for in the upper south. if he had a note, a mortgage on that person, he would pay off that mortgage and pocket the profit. and so the same way that we comodify houses and cars and livestock, these are the exact same market forces that were in the comodification of human beings during the time of enslavement and all of that is being transacted in this calculated way, but on the ground floor, on the human side of it, what that story is is of
9:45 pm
course separation from loved ones, when people were being locked up in pens similar to this, they might be with their family and about to be sold away from their family or they've just traveled long distance away from everything they've ever known and all of that is being done with a price tag. people who were locked up in slave pens also sometimes had to wait for long periods of time for the market to be at an appropriate value to sell them at the highest return. so if people made it to an auction house in new orleans and the price for slaves was low, sometimes they would wait and keep them locked up in a jail or keep them locked up in the boat that they had come on and wait for those markets to improve so they could make a higher return on their investment. as far as the actual dollar amount, what people were being sold for here in louisiana, a good rate that you see pretty commonly is about 900 to $1,000. for somebody who was skilled that might go up to $1,500. and there's a -- another sort of
9:46 pm
seedy underbelly of the slave trade which was called the fancy trade. girls who might be used as sex slaves could be sold at a higher rate. that 1,500 or $2,000 and we're talking about 19th century money, so when you translate it to today it's an enormous amount of money that people were spending on those individuals. >> this area that we're standing in right now is the whitney plantation historic district and this is where we have the highest concentration of original structures. all centered around the 1790 big house. over here we have the original site of the kitchen, and there was a kitchen here from as far as we can tell, the earliest time the construction of this big house. this structure is a little bit
9:47 pm
later -- it was here by about 1830. and it was in very poor condition when our owner john comings bought the land in 1999. it was just about falling over so he had to right the building and rebuild the hearth entirely. but a lot of these structures were really just falling apart into the ground. so hidell, his son built this big house and then later it was occupied by his sons. they operated it in a partnership until 17 -- or excuse me, until 1839 at which point the widow took over and she ran the plantation from 1840 to 1860. so really the longest period of ownership was a woman. and this was also during the most profitable years and also during the time of the greatest -- the largest slave
9:48 pm
population was under the ownership of a woman. the kitchen where we are right now is where the enslaved cook would prepare meals for the family. and we have record of a couple of cooks that were listed on different inventories. marie and marie joseph. cooks would be assisted by domestics, people who lived either inside the big house or close to the big house and assisted the family and they would do things, you know, ranging from cleaning inside the big house to helping out the cook and moving food, serving it in the big house for meals. the cook's day in a kitchen like this would start very early in the morning, because all of the preparing of food, all of the cooking was done on the hearth. this is called hearth cooking. so she would build a fire in the center here, and most of her cooking is again, not done on those flames, but done on the embers that are built up by that fire. so the reason that she would
9:49 pm
have to start so early is that she would have to get a large supply of coals by burning lots and lots of wood and then raking those coals out on to the hearth to prepare food. so we have a couple of examples of ways that people prepared food on those coals. this works almost like an eye and we also have something called a spider pot. so the coals go underneath and then there would be a top here to retain that heat and the coals would go on top of the pot as well. you can see a good example of this right here where this is constructed with almost like fingers coming up so those can retain all of the coals on the top. so a lot of the cook's day in preparing all of the various food that the family wanted to eat would be spent bent over pots like this. or crouching down trying to get close to what she was preparing. anything that we prepare today,
9:50 pm
say in a slow cooker or in an oven could be prepared in pots like this over a hearth. basically it creates a dutch oven. and so we -- we know that the food that they eating here would be kind of a cultural mix. the family was jer monodescended but this was french louisiana. we had native american ingredients and if you think about the food ways of south louisiana, this is kind of an african center there. they would also be preparing any types of foods that the family had requested and we have remains, archaeological remains here of cow, apparently an extraordinary amount of beef, and there were cow teeth found on this site so that tells us
9:51 pm
the cook was doing everything from butchering all the way to preparing the food. it was complete to this configurati configuration. in the 1830s they added dormers. but it remains prethety much unchanged. the house was lived in by two generations of hidels and then after slavery, a number of different families lived here when it was operated as a wage labor farm, free labor farm. so we're going to enter into the ground floor.
9:52 pm
any domestic slaves that worked on this plantation would come into this house through the back. so we've made a choice to enter the house through the back as enslaved people would enter it. the front of the house is really where you get the kind of grand vista. but the back is really more of the labor center. so there would be a path that cut all the way from the kitchen to the back. and enslaved people would go into a pantry over here to prepare the food for plating and service and then take it into the dining room. so we are in the dining room of the whitney plantation big house. the dining room is on the ground floor. and the floor has spanish tile, which we had recreated. we did find restoration.
9:53 pm
enslaved people built the levies along the mississippi. it was set back from the mississippi river not terribly far. and so all of the people who were enslaved on the particular plantations along the river road were responsible for building the levy, maintaining the le vi right in front of that place. so some of these big houses, and this may have been one of them, but some of them were originally open air on the ground floor to allow for kind of flooding. s this the dining area where enslaved people, we have furnished this big house using not any original pieces from this family because they stopped living here in 1867. but we have inventories taken at two points in the 19th century. and we used those as our guide. basically like an insurance adjuster, they would just walk
9:54 pm
room to room and record everything down to each individual fork. over to the side here, we also have another pantry that would be used for service. and around the corner on the floor, there's an interesting feature which is an olive jar sunk into the floor for refrigeration and this is original. so the slave domestics who worked here could use this to cool down food or wine. if they were serving a chilled dessert, that would be a good place to let it chill before service. the oaks in the front of the house are actually not that old. they're only about 50 years old, added much later. and the best thing we know is that in a photograph in the 1920s, there was a fence coming up kind of close to the house and there were gardens coming right up against the front of the house, which is really kind of an old fashioned configuration for landscape design.
9:55 pm
so that would be sometimes flowers and just a real militshh of things grown right up to the house. so the way this house is constructed is typical of french design, french and caribbean. something that's a little bit unusual for people who live in areas settled by the english. it does not have interior hallways or staircases. however, the porch would act almost like a hallway. you could walk from one room on the end to one room on the other just on the porch. it's also important to note they are african in origin. and the people who built these houses were african and african descended slaves, building things that were familiar to them. something that is really significant about the whitney big house is the original murals
9:56 pm
which are here. this is the only part that we have had reconstructed, our conservator had to redo this pattern because it was so deteriorated. however, we do have the original on the posts here. and these are from the 1840s. this is from a time of great sugar wealth and so that's why this is really significant. some people in the 1840s, 1850s, built enormous mangss. and most of our visitors here are expecting to see something like tara, you know, something they've read about or seen in movies. and by comparison, these are really pretty modest houses. but they were able to make enough money using the forced labor of african descended slaves to pay someone to come out and hand paint faux marble on their base boards, on their fireplaces, on the outside walls, on these posts. and all of this attention to detail, all of that cost a lot
9:57 pm
of money. and that money came from that forced labor in the fields. so we're walking into one of the large bedrooms and this has typical furnishing of the era. mid 1th century. and also again, has more of this decorative mural work on the fireplace. you can see the marbling on the fireplace as well. this was the family's home, but enslaved people were in every room of this house. performing labor. in a bedroom like this, the family members might have personal servants, people who sometimes even in some houses, we don't know here, but in some houses they slept on pallets on the floor, next to the bed of their owners.
9:58 pm
they would perform labor in this room, like cleaning, of course, dusting, getting autoof the clothing ready for people to wear, lighting the fire. and we have a bed warmer on the bed as well. so in the wintertime, enslaved domestics would fill a bed warmer like that with coals and then run it underneath the sheets to get the bed warm before the family got in. of course, also enslaved people would be tending to the personal hygiene of their owners as well. there were chamber pots in here that enslaied domestics had to empty out. so everything from start to finish was done by enslaved workers. including, of course, raising children. so any children who were raised in this house, any heidel children would be physically nursed and cared for by enslaved wet nurses. so enslaved nurses usually slept in the same room as the children and formed a real bond with
9:59 pm
those children. and this again is a really interesting kind of relationship where one person is enslaved and one person is the enslaifr, yet there is an intimate bond there that has this division right in the middle. the center salon also retains a lot of that original yurl work. and the most elaborate is on the ceiling. we believe that this work was commissioned. she was the owner from 1840 to 1860. her husband had died in 1839. we believe this may have been a commemorative piece. this room, it's really difficult when we come in here, not to just sort of gawk at how beautiful it is. there's a lot of really remarkable furniture. the decor is really quite lovely. and most visitors imagine themselves as the people who would be relaxing. they think wouldn't it be nice to relax in a room like this. but it's important to think
10:00 pm
about the different ways this room would be used. it would be a site of relaxation, but it would again be a site of labor for the enslaied people. one thing we draw from the era that was common, if there were slave enslaved people who were skilled musicians or in any form of entertainment, they might be called upon after their work in the field concluded to entertain the family. solomon northup was a skilled fiddle player. he all he wanted to do was rest in his cabin. he had to come into the house and perform fiddle for dances and balls all night long. you can understand that being forced or compelled to entertain when all you want to do is relax and be by yourself would be another form of psychological torment for enslaved people.
10:01 pm
in the last big bedroom here, these people lived inside the big house as well. we'll go from here out on to the back porch. here you can see the end of those historic murals. these patterns, by the way, come from a standard pattern book, a french pattern book. this was a motif done from a pattern book. or conservator game out here and uncovered all of this painting. you can see the condition it was in right here. there's a couple of spots that were dark, so you can see how deteriorated it had been.
10:02 pm
something that's expressive a little bit of life after the civil war. you can see all of these scribbles. these are children who lived in this house after slavery ended. some of these are dated. these are heights. so hooer we have, says 14th of july, 1894. lillian at 10 years old right here. the family lived here for many years after slavery ended. and these are written in krinch as well. that's also interesting in learning about the cull choor here. so after slavery ended, this plantation continued operating as a cain and rice plantation for many, many years. in the front of house, close to the river road, we have the original plantation you can see
10:03 pm
it as a method of oppression in these types of labor forms. these plantations will build stores. it's kind of like a company store. you hear that in the north, too, a company store. the workers would have to shop there for all of their goods. they would deduct that from the money that they would make working in the fields. sharecropping is actually not common in sugar because you can't really sharecrop sugar. you need the whole crop to make anything. you can't just grow this amount and get anything from it. so they had wage laborers. and the wage laborers on this plantation would live in the same slave cabins. many of them would be the former slave themselves or their desen daents. people were living in these slave cabins until the 1960s and working the same fields. we have a lot of records from the plantation store and worked currently beginning on a project processing those.
10:04 pm
they had a whole different experience, but some things stayed very much the same as they had been during slavery times. >> you're watching american history tv. for information on our upcoming programs and to keep up on the latest history news. and there's more on american history tv's facebook page, including video of recent programs and viewer comments. that's at history. >> the supreme court cases that shaped our history come to life with the c-span series "landmark cases." our 12-part series explores real life experiences. >> john marshall said in marbury
10:05 pm
versus madison says the constitution is a political document. it setups the political structures, but it's also a law. and if it's a law, we have the courts to tell what it means and that's binding on the other branches. >> what sets dread scott apart is the fact that it is the ultimate anti-press dential case. it's exactly what you don't want to do. >> who should make the decisions about those debates. >> each week, american history tv's american artifacts visits museums and historic places. up next, a visit to the national museum of the american jewish history in philadelphia. to learn about their poor exhibition, tracing the history of the jewish people in america from 1654 to the present day. this is part one of a two-part program.
10:06 pm
>> welcome to the national museum of jewish american history in philadelphia, pennsylvania. i name is claire pingle. i'm the associate curator her s at the museum. i'm happy to give you a tour today. the museum was started in 1976 by one of the five original jewish congregations that date back to the colonial period. it's half a block north from us. we shared a building with them for 35 years and opened in this location in november 2010. we are right in the middle of independence mall here in philadelphia. we are halfway between independence hall where the nation really got its start even the national constitution center which explores the founding dopts of this nation. we like to think that we are an example of what happens when a people are allowed to live in
10:07 pm
liberty. our museum is organized so that we have a big atrium right in the middle of the building. on this side of the atrium, we have some orientation spaces, and on the other side of the atrium is where the bulk of our exhibition is, where all the artifacts and stories unfold. in the orientation areas of the museum, we want to give visitors a little bit of breathing space and set them in the mood of what they're about to see on the other side of our atrium. so in this area, we talk a little bit about who jews are, where they came from. we knew that we would have a lot of jewish visitors coming in, but we've also been pleased that we've had a lot of people coming in who aren't jewish, who might need a little bit more explanation of who these people are, who they're about to learn about in our exhibition on the other side of our atrium.
10:08 pm
>> these settlers came from brazil, which had just been taken over by the portuguese. so the jewish colonists in brazil had to leave. most colonists had already left when these 23 boarded a ship and came to north america. this is the earliest known record of their arrival here. it refers to these 23 original jewish permanent settlers. there had been other jews here prior to these people, but they were not people who stayed and built a community. these settlers arrived in new amsterdam where they quickly
10:09 pm
became part of the local fabric of the community, setting up organizations like a synagogue and other organizations that make them a community of people who stayed in new york and new amsterdam. one of these people was named asur levy. he became part of that original jewish community there. new amsterdam was not a very friendly place for jews in 1654. the governor of new amsterdam didn't really want the jews there, but they were allowed to stay and levy became a champion for jews in the new colony, fighting for their right to serve in the militia and be full citizens of the colony. historians believe that levy kept a kosher home. we have here his estate
10:10 pm
inventory, and it lists two of many kitchen implements. which would indicate, could indicate that he used one for meat and one for dairy, keeping those separate. we explore the five original colonies. the jews who live here are people historians now refer to as port jews. many were involved in commerce and trade and in port cities all over the atlantic. we have some portraits of some of these people here. most notably to us is the portrait here in the top left corner. he came from central europe and he chose to depict himself posed with the five books of moses.
10:11 pm
one is on the table here. there are four other volumes up here on the bookshelf of. this is unusual in colonial jewish portrait chur. jews generally didn't include any indication that they were jewish in their portraits. this is a model of the sin nothing in new port, rhode island. you'll notice the balcony up above where the women would have sat. everything is to scale. this was made by a model maker in illinois who was not jewish but was very interested in the synagogue and went to the library of congress and studied the floor plans for benjamin peter harrison's design for the synagogue, which ask a very new port building. there are no outward signs that this is a jewish building. new port's jews were just building a colonial building. he was one of the finest architects in the colonies at
10:12 pm
the time. it's a pa laidian building. the next gallery of the exhibition explores the american jewish experience in the revolutionary war. not all jews were yankees, but it would have been very difficult for people to choose to follow the revolution. this was a very new idea to rebel against the crown. so we do talk about jews who were torys as well as those who were patriots. and one of the most famous patriots, of course, is haim solomon who helped finance the revolution by selling bonds for the revolutionary army to help raise money. so we have a little -- a few arty fangts from his life, including his marriage
10:13 pm
certificate, an advertisement for his business, and a receipt, a ledger sheet right here in james madison's hand where madison is recording expenses and the receipt of funds from various people who were helping to raise money for the revolution including on the second line there, haim solomon. solomon was a congregation of the synagogue that started this museum. one of the big stars of our exhibition is right here. this is correspondent between george washington and the jewish congregation of newport, rhode island. these are on loan to us from the morguen zs stern foundation. we're very excited to have these on loan.
10:14 pm
when he arrived, various groups addressed him, including the jewish community of new port. and this is the address that was read outloud to washington that day on august 17. a very quickly afterwards, probably within a day or a few days, washington would write back to the congregation a very eloquent letter confirming his belief that the new nation should -- and his commitment to religious tolerance in the new nation. it's really one of the founding document for american jewish history. it's a very important thing for us to have on display here. new port was not the only community to address washington and receive a well considered letter confirming washington's belief in religious libtd in response. we have a couple more letters across the way here.
10:15 pm
the community of savannah also wrote to washington, as did many other religious groups. we have a list here of different groups that wrote to him. despite this confirmation of commit by the federal government of religious wlibt, jews haed to overcome obstacles to complete liberty. many states had religious tests that blocked jews from holding office at the state level. generally that would be -- you would have to take an oath on a christian bible in order to hold office. jews can't do that. so those laws were struck down one by one in the states that help held them. the latest was in 1877. so it took a very long time for this. in this gallery, we look at


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on